When I was a kid, my parents took me to the circus twice. And each time, I was terrified.
I was so worried that the trapeze artists would screw up and fall to their death. But even more frightening was the lion “tamer” – the man who stood in a lion cage with nothing but a whip – attempting to avoid being mauled by a ferocious lion.
A whip and a small wooden chair.
What use could such a silly chair serve in self-defense against such a beast?
Actually, a lot.
Turns out the whip is purely for show. It’s never used against the lion.
What truly keeps the lion at bay is the chair.
When the tamer points the four legs of the chair toward the lion, it gets confused by all the legs. The lion isn’t sure whether to focus on leg one, two, three or four. And so the lion is continually distracted – and hence won’t attack the person holding the chair.
In a sense, the world is a lot like that chair for us. So many things vying for our attention that we live our lives from one distraction to the next.
Think about the various “chair legs” that capture our attention: the amount of money in our bank account, the drama in our personal and professional lives, the health of our body and those people we care deeply about, concern with the good opinion of others, our goals and dreams, and on and on.
None of those things is wrong or inherently bad. It would be nearly impossible to live in this world and not think about most of those. But when we become like the lion and get so fixated on all the “legs” that we aren’t able to grow or achieve our objectives – that’s when we hold ourselves back.
But there is a way to get unstuck.
Instead of hyper focusing on the legs of the chair (all the drama going on in our lives), we can pay attention to who is holding the chair – and that is our mind. Our ego mind is the voice that compels us to be riveted on all the goings-on in our world.
We also have another mind – our higher self – that sees things completely differently from the ego. From this mind, we see every moment as an opportunity for growth. Every encounter as a chance for connecting.
From this vantage point, we can make choices that are not based on confusion or feeling overwhelmed, but rather from a place of clarity. The pursuit of our objectives becomes much clearer, and the attainment of our goals much more rapid.
Each moment of stress or sadness, we can ask ourselves if we’re in our ego mind and glued to those “chair legs”. If so, we can remind ourselves that we have another mind – one that leads to much greater peace.
Join me in Monday’s class where we’ll explore the nature of our two minds and how we can practice making the choice for the more helpful one. I look forward to seeing you then.